Summer may be fading but the Coxsackie virus is still cropping up in many young children.
Dr. Sara Siddiqui, a pediatrician at NYU-Langone Huntington Medical Group, said the virus, which also surfaces at schools, can spread easily through summer camp and day-care centers as children play in close contact with each other.
Coxsackie can produce a fever and blister-like rash in the throat, hands or feet, which is why it is commonly referred to as hand, foot and mouth disease, and it can be quite painful. And though it is most commonly a disease of children, adults are not immune– two major league players developed it this summer, after appearing at summer camps with children.
The virus also pops up in pools or hot tubs.
And although the disease can pass in a week, it can have serious consequences, Siddiqui said. Children sometimes refuse to eat or drink, which can leave them sicker and dehydrated, and possibly lead to the need for rehydration at a hospital. Because it is a virus, antibiotics have no effect and so aren’t prescribed.
Another possible consequence of the disease is itching which can lead to more scratching, she said, which in turn can produce super infections if the skin is broken.
The first instance of the disease is usually the toughest on patients, because eventually their immune system strengthens against future exposures. It is sometimes mistaken for chickenpox, since both produce blister-like rashes.
Parents are encouraged to bring their child into the doctor’s office after three days, if not sooner, Siddiqui said.
And, she added, handwashing is key to preventing the spread of the disease. The disease spreads through oral and fecal contact, so any common surfaces can be contaminated and spread quickly to others.
Siddiqui recommends children learn more and practice more thorough handwashing, using the Happy Birthday song with handwashing lyrics to ensure proper technique, followed by lots of rinsing.